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Lincoln Breathes New Life into Aging Navigator

Full-size luxury ute gets first significant update in half a decade.

by on Jan.23, 2014

The update to the 2015 Lincoln Navigator marks the biggest makeover since 2009 to the full-size ute.

This story has been updated to note the price increase of the Lincoln Navigator’s most direct competitor, the Cadillac Escalade

It helped launch an entirely new market segment and introduced the concept of “bling” to the auto industry, but in recent years, the once-prized Lincoln Navigator has become little more than an after-thought in the luxury car market.

Now, as it sets out to rebuild its struggling Lincoln brand, parent Ford Motor Co. aims to breathe new life into the big Navigator with the most significant update to the full-size luxury sport-utility vehicle in five years.  But a sneak peek at the 2015 Navigator raises questions about whether the planned changes go far enough at a time when the big Lincoln’s most direct competitor, the Cadillac Escalade, is getting a far more extensive makeover.

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The Navigator originally debuted 17 years ago and “helped define the full-size luxury segment,” proclaimed Andrew Frick, Lincoln’s marketing manager, during a media background session on the 2015 SUV – which will be formally unveiled at the Chicago Motor Show next month. The update, he added, “will bolster” a product that had lost a significant amount of ground in recent years as it grew old and faced more competition from players as diverse as Caddy’s Escalade, the Infiniti QX80, the Mercedes-Benz GL and Lexus LX570.

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New British Company Launching “Super-SUV” at Frankfurt

High-line makers crowding into sport-ute market.

by on Sep.09, 2011

A limousine in an SUV body? A first look at the new Eterniti Motors Hemera.

For those who think the Porsche Cayenne is too plebian, and perhaps a bit underpowered, there’s hope ahead.  The Frankfurt Motor Show will bring the unveiling of a new “Super-SUV” designed by a start-up British auto company, the ambitiously named Eterniti Motors.

The maker will attempt to lure the media wandering the vast corridors of the Frankfurt Messe next week by trotting out Le Mans winner Alastair Macqueen and Formula Grand Prix winning driver Johnny Herbert.

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But the real draw will likely be the question of what Eterniti plans to deliver with its new Hemera ute that you can’t get from the likes of a Cayenne, a Range Rover Autobiography or an Audi Q7.

Officials with Eterniti aren’t placing all their cards on the table yet, but TheDetroitBureau.com has learned that while the Hemera is claimed to deliver reasonably good off-road manners, the emphasis is really on limousine comfort – and Porsche-like performance.

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First Look: 2011 Infiniti QX56

“Arresting presence,” but will buyers agree?

by on Mar.31, 2010

Infiniti hopes to improve upon the minimal success of its original full-size luxury ute with the new 2011 Infiniti QX56

Nissan had big plans for its two full-sized SUVs, the Nissan Armada and Infiniti QX56.  Unfortunately, potential buyers didn’t agree, turning a cold shoulder to the twin offerings.  Now, with an all-new version of the big luxury ute, the Japanese maker is giving it another try.

Describing the new look as an “arresting presence,” the automaker’s Executive Vice President Carlos Tavares pulled the wraps off the 2011 Infiniti QX56 at the New York Auto Show, Wednesday, describing it as “the future of luxury SUVs.”

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Once again, the market will have to decide, but there’s no question the 2011 remake is a substantially more distinctive offering than the original model.  That, at least in part, is due to the fact that the 2011 Infiniti QX56 no longer shares the exact same platform as the Nissan Armada, allowing the luxury maker more flexibility in its design, which has at least a bit in common, visually, with the latest-generation Range Rover, including the new front fender louvers.

The 2011 Infiniti QX56 no longer shares the base platform -- and key body panels -- with Nissan's second-generation Armada.

Full-size truly means something with the 2011 Infiniti QX56, which boasts enough space for eight adults.  Even the third row features electrically-reclining seatbacks.

“Our goal,” said Tavares, “is to create the interior feel of a private jet.”

To achieve lift-off, the ’11 QX56 relies on a 400-horsepower, 5.6-liter, Direct-Injection V-8.  That’s 25% more horsepower than the old model, even though mileage is itself up 10%.  For those who might want to pull a boat or trailer, the new QX has a rated towing capacity of 8,500 pounds.

The interior of the 2011 Infiniti QX56 is markedly upgraded with lavish use of leather and wood.

As one would expect of a vehicle carrying a base price of $56,700 — $59,800 with the optional all-wheel-drive – the 2011 Infiniti QX56 is loaded with standard comfort, performance and safety features, including the new Hydraulic Body Motion System, which Infiniti claims can reduce body lean by 40%.  There’s a blind spot detection system, active cruise control, a new Distance Control Assist, lane change monitor, and optional dual 7-inch video screens for the rear seats.

The 2011 Infiniti QX56 will hit U.S. showrooms this coming Summer.

First Drive: 2010 Lexus GX460

Solid, dependable, loaded with technology, but still a bit bland.

by on Nov.23, 2009

The 2010 Lexus GX460 officially goes on sale next month.

The 2010 Lexus GX460 officially goes on sale next month, with a base price of $51,970.

To listen to some folks in the mainstream media, the sport-utility vehicle is dead and gone.  Don’t try to tell that to American motorists.  Sure, sales are down, and many buyers are switching from conventional SUVs to lighter, more nimble and efficient crossover vehicles, but to misappropriate Mark Twain, reports of the sport ute’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

Just ask Toyota, which has blanketed the market with an array of conventional sport-utility vehicles and crossover-utes though both its mass brand, as well as up-market Lexus.  The latter marque’s RX line dominates the mid-luxury crossover segment, the big RX570 targets buyers looking for the ultimate combination of off-roadability and create comforts.

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Smack in the middle is the GX, a three-row, body-on-frame ute which is making its second-generation debut.  At first glance, it might be a bit confusing, the new 2010 Lexus GX460 replacing the older GX470.  In fact, while the displacement is down, Lexus has found a way to squeeze out more power, torque – and fuel economy.

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First Drive: 2010 Land Rover Range Rover

My Autobiography - the Range Rover Autobiography, that is.

by on Oct.07, 2009

When autumn leaves come tumbling down...it's time for the debut of the 2010 Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography, the most exclusive edition ever from the British marque.

When autumn leaves come tumbling down...it's time for the debut of the 2010 Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography, the most exclusive edition ever from the British marque.

It’s been said that the automobiles we buy are an extension of our personality.  For some, basic transportation is all that matters.  For others, nothing but the best will do.  Some just want an appliance on wheels, others a vehicle with a distinct personality.  There are those who are fine with an anonymous automobile that can blend in anywhere.

Then there are those who want to turn heads everywhere they drive, with a car that’s not just stylish but which offers the ultimate in performance and creature comfort.  That’s the sort of buyer Land Rover has in mind with its all-new, 2010 Range Rover Autobiography.

The aptly-named, top-line version of the updated 2010 luxury SUV is targeted at the most exclusive and demanding customers, folks who typically trade in every year or so, just so they aren’t missing out on the latest features, and who can afford just about anything they want, even after the past year’s economic meltdown.

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And what do you get for your $110,000 – about $15,000 more than an otherwise well-equipped but conventional Range Rover?

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First Drive: 2010 BMW X1 xDrive 20d

New plant, new car… new opportunities?

by on Oct.02, 2009

BMW hopes to score another success with the latest Sport-Activity Vehicle, the 2010 BMW X1.

BMW hopes to score another success with the latest Sport-Activity Vehicle, the 2010 BMW X1.

BMW has a way of pushing off into uncharted territory and coming back with a solid hit.  Remember the X5?  It was anything but a sure bet when the so-called “Sport Activity Vehicle” belatedly launched the automaker into the then-booming luxury SUV segment.  But it went on to become a solid success, with more than a million sold worldwide, so far.

Then came the downsized X3, and the more recent X6, each generating controversy, and eventually, plenty of sales, on their own.  All told, the various X models now account for nearly a fifth of BMW’s global sales.  And that could grow even larger with the launch of the smallest member of that expanding family, the 2010 BMW X1 xDrive 20d – which makes its entry into the European market on October 24th, though a U.S. introduction date is unclear.

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It’s been a bit of a rush job getting the X1 to market on time, and in this case that means BMW has shortened the development and preproduction time by 40% compared to prior X models. The Germans realized soon after the decision to build the X1 was made, in 2006, that speed was of the essence. Gas prices were shooting sky high and downsizing was a solution.  Though fuel prices may have fallen since last year, BMW still sees this as an urgent goal.

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